Coronavirus is spreading and the UK government advises staff to work more from home. But are your business remote working processes up to scratch?
How do you keep staff productive and happy when working remotely?
In unpredictable times, modern organisations are overcoming traffic-filled commutes, expensive rents and worker fatigue by enabling their team to carry out remote working. The spread of coronavirus Covid-19 is also testing your organisation’s remote working processes.
But how do you measure and maintain productivity when your team are working apart from each other? And how do you maintain the social benefits of face-to-face teamwork?
This is a superb challenge which fits squarely in the remit of the IT service provider or in-house team.
The traditional 9-5 is slowly being eroded, with staff being empowered to work with the increased flexibility that many people need to balance their home and work lives, whilst remaining productive at work.
Meanwhile, your customers also expect you to be available for longer every day, to fit around their schedules.
Remote working makes all this achievable, by helping to spread the working hours of your existing workforce, making it not just possible but also enjoyable and easy to fit productive working hours in around the clock. With some gentle nudges, it’s possible to build a business with extended working hours that suit your staff better. It’s even possible to develop a more even spread of enquiries and workload from your existing customers, with some clever touches.
Purple started as a remote-working business and continues to be one. It’s in our blood. From the very first day of trading, our systems and technology had to enable a team of diversely skilled engineers in different locations to service our core area across the south of England, without a central office.
We are uniquely positioned to guide and advise our customers on what will make remote-working a success in their business.
Remote Working Tools
What 4 things do I need to make remote working possible in my business?
- First class instant messaging tools, such as Slack
- Great external (customer-facing) communication tools, such as Zendesk
- Great project management and CRM tools
- A great VoIP phone system
Forget cumbersome WhatsApp groups and iMessages – Slack is a first-class communications tool for your business. Highly geared to remote teams, you can ensure internal communication is effective and the right people can see information that matters to them. Set up discussion channels for key topics such as HR, Finance and Sales then add the relevant staff. Set up channels for Projects and include the project managers and their sub-teams. Share files. Set up instant conference calls. Instant-message each other in private (and be advised of your colleague’s timezone before you click send). Set yourself reminders to follow up on tasks and messages from your colleagues, or remind each other. Slack is a must-have tool for the modern workplace. It also has a whimsical side, allowing water-cooler socialisation to take place without getting in the way of real work.
When working remotely, you can’t just shout across the room to find out who replied to Mrs Smith’s email from last week. You need a tool which goes beyond email, bringing all your customer conversations together in one place for the whole team to collaborate on. We use Zendesk, but there are plenty of solutions out there for great customer service.
When you bring customer conversations together, your whole team can cover for each other easily and with full information at their fingertips. Trainees can review past responses to customers and make informed choices about how they should respond to new enquiries. Statistics will constantly measure your team’s response times and customer feedback, as well as individual performance, no matter where they are working from. This ensures your new remote working environment is just as productive (if not more so) compared to when everyone was sat in a room together asking constant questions about who did what and when. Customers will be delighted with your service and staff can work together to look after customers from any device, anywhere, at any time.
Project Management and CRM Tools
All business need project management and CRM tools, whether these are simple spreadsheets or more complex software. When working remotely, central servers are less practical and accessible, so cloud solutions (software-as-a-service) become the best practice.
We have helped businesses migrate away from clunky, old project management and CRM systems running on in-house servers and spreadsheets. They’ve now converted to multi-user, highly available cloud solutions. This allows entire teams to collaborate, discuss and progress your projects and sales. Solutions such as Trello, TeamWork, ConnectWise, Daylite, SalesForce and many others are examples of such systems. We can review your current business workflow and recommend a cost-effective off-the-shelf cloud solutions. These help to improve and enhance teamwork when staff members are remote from each other.
The best solutions make it easy for individuals to post their progress updates, task themselves and others with project activities, plan your budgets, and integrate with your calendar system to ensure sufficient time and resource is scheduled for your projects to be completed on time
VoIP Phone Systems
Advancements in VoIP technology and smartphones now make traditional desk phones utterly redundant.
With a suitable VoIP phone system it’s possible to equip your staff, often using their own personal smartphones if desired. They have a business telephone extension which can be switched on or off by the user at any time.
Staff are empowered to make call outbound from the business phone number using their personal smartphone. They can also receive calls to the business on their smartphone, from home or on the road. Intelligent ‘hunt groups’ ensures a customer’s call gets routed to an available member of the team no matter where they are located.
Automated menus, detailed call statistics and other advanced features such as voicemail-to-email make anything possible. Our recommended 3CX hosted VoIP system almost entirely removes the likelihood of your business missing a critical phone call, even if your team are working 100% remotely.
Remote Working – Summary
Modern technology makes remote working a reality for many service businesses.
It has been shown that an effective implementation of remote working, with the right tools, can allow staff to enjoy a positive impact on both productivity and heath and wellbeing. It’s win-win.
Speak to Purple about implementing remote working in your business by getting in touch.